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Columbus City Schools Cited In New Financial Audit

State Auditor David Yost says the Columbus City Schools failed to account for $28,000 in receipts at five of its district schools. "This is money that came in to five different schools, was collected by a former area treasurer that money never made it into the bank. So, we issued findings for recovery to retrieve that and we referred the matter to the Franklin County prosecuting attorney." Says Yost The financial audit of the Columbus City schools is independent of an investigation into alleged manipulation of attendance and other data. But, one of the findings in the financial audit links directly to that ongoing inquiry. Deep in the 250 page report from Auditor Dave Yost is a recommendation that Columbus school administrators file complaints in juvenile court when a student is often truant. Yost says the district has had a practice of calling students truant who do not meet the legal definition of truancy. School board member and chair of the district's audit committee, Gary Baker admits that effects attendance and test data. "Students leaving the district and entering the district and whether or not they are attending classes obviously can have an impact on our attendance rate. And, whether or not students attend class regularly, obviously, will have an impact on how they fare on standardized tests." Says Baker. Yost says the extent of the practice of calling students truant without filing a formal court complaint will be outlined in the pending special audit. But, he declined to say when the special audit would be complete. "It's kind of like pulling on a loose end in a ball of string. You don't know necessarily where that's going to end or where it's going to lead. So, we're continuing to pull on that string and we'll, I hate to say this, but we'll be done with it when we get done with it." Says Yost Yost adds that in the last two weeks his investigators have interviewed dozens of Columbus teachers. Baker says the district now plans to review attendance data every three months and all enrollments and withdrawals of students will be tracked by an enrollment center rather than at the individual school buildings.